Health issues reveal 'Sasang' constitution
In "Sasang" Constitutional Medicine, a person’s constitution labeled as either “so-yang-in” (SY type), “so-eum-in” (SE type), “tae-yang-in” (TY type), or “’tae-eum-in” (TE type), determines the criteria for how healthy that person is. As each constitution represents varying degrees of functionality of bodily organs, a person can be considered healthy only when the respective organs that are prone to weakening maintain their normal functions.
When we have correctly identified our own constitution and its corresponding health indicators, we can lead a much healthier life with just a little bit of added effort.
SE types are common among females. In comparison to the shoulders, the pelvis area is better developed. In the body measuring method that uses the five horizontal lines across a person’s body, an SE type has a longer ilium line than stomach line.
Waistlines are generally slim to shape an hourglass figure, as found in many of the contestants in a beauty pageant. While some SE types possess a balanced figure to compete in such pageants, others may have stocky thighs or calves as they can have a well developed lower body.
SE types are prone to diminished stomach functionality resulting in such symptoms as indigestion, dyspepsia and gastritis. For an SE type, the ability to digest is a major factor in determining how healthy the person is, and maintaining good digestive function is the first step towards good health.
SY types are more common amongst males. Their body lines tend to expand from the ilium to shoulder lines. An SY type’s chest tends to be well developed and strong, leading to well defined pectoral muscles.
Compared to the top, the lower body tends to be thinner. The Superman-like body shape so desired by many men is the typical SY shape. In women, many SY types tend to have large breasts.
For an SY person, having good bowel movement becomes the most important factor in determining health status. These types can go to the bathroom two or three times a day and as long as the stools are in good shape, how many times they go does not matter.
Contrarily, not having a bowel movement can lead to stomach cramps, and heat can compile in the body to rapidly make the body ill. When an SY type is tired, the stools tend to be thin and watery.
TE types have a well-developed waist area. In other words, a protruding belly can be the first tell-tale sign of a TE person. Those with a round drum-shaped belly have a high probability of being a TE type.
However, being portly or having a pot belly does not always mean that the person is a TE type. In the old days, when nutrition among the general population was less than adequate, being portly was a good indicator of a TE type, but in today’s world where nutritious foods are in excess, and the general public lacks the time to exercise, leading to becoming overweight, so other constitutions can also be overweight. A TE person may also be thin.
For a TE type, being able to sweat well is the determining factor. Compared to an SE type who can easily tire with just a little amount of sweating, a TE type can feel refreshed after sweating a lot. Those of us who enjoy sweating in the sauna tend to be TE types.
Their bodies tend to stock up on “qi,” or life energy, and sweating is a way of releasing the excess qi from the body. The reason why a TE person can easily become overweight is because converging qi is very strong. Therefore, if TE types cannot sweat well, they need to be treated promptly as that symptom can lead to other illnesses.
A TY person has wide shoulders while the pelvis tends to be weakly developed. In the body measuring method, a TY type’s shoulder line is longer than the ilium line by 10 centimeters or more. In other words, a TY type can have a huge upper body and a comparatively smaller bottom, as with The Incredible Hulk.
For a TY type, a major health indicator is the amount and smooth relief of urine. With TY types, relieving oneself is no problem when healthy, but when not, it can be an uncomfortable activity.
The writer practices traditional Korean medicine in Hannam-dong, Seoul.